"We agreed that future trainings would need to be 50-50, women and men. With this increased participation from women, we saw a 52% increase in potato yields. Simply by bringing women to the front in potato growing, we found great success. And that lesson will stay with us in all our future work.” – Dr. Paul Demo.
"The divide between men and women became clear to me when conducting a situation analysis of passion fruit farrming in Rwanda in 2003. The team would discuss production and marketing aspects about passion fruit with the women at their plots, which were close to home due to the high commercial value of the crop. When I asked the women about sales, they were unable to answer. They said their husbands managed this, but they were not home to ask. When driving through the villages, I observed many men gathering together in village centers, drinking from straws. These moments embedded in my mind as I witnessed the gender rhetoric, and I chose to do better.” – Monica Parker.
Collective action helps overcome challenges
Chabit Morunyang lives in Northern Uganda. For Chabit and other women in her area, access to sweetpotato planting material has always been a challenge due to the distances one has to travel to access the vines. However, there is hope for her community. A group of women led by Chabit have come together to multiply and sell sweetpotato vines in the area. To support such farmers and ensure they are not left behind, Joshua Okonya – CIP's research associate in Uganda – is training them on vine multiplication as a business to serve their community.
"It's impossible to achieve impact at scale without considering and integrating gender diversity, equity and equality into program delivery. It is imperative to promote participation of women and youth by ensuring they can benefit from our interventions, such as equal access to nutrition education, planting materials, and other economic opportunities along the sweetpotato value chain." – Joyce Maru, CIP Program Coordinator for Sweetpotato.
From housewives to businesswomen: Stories of change in Bohol, Philippines
In the Philippines, smallholder farmers are joining forces to develop and market sweetpotato products. Through Farmer Business Schools women have learned how to participate in the market and become players in the local value chain. This model was introduced in the area with generous funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
"Every day we dream of having a stable job. Thanks to the FBS, we have gone from being plain housewives to productive business women. The FBS helps us financially because of the income that we receive from the products that we process. The FBS also strengthened our bond as an organization because the women in the community became productive. Today, with FBS we are all bonding and we are all gaining because perseverance solves problems." – Alvira Gumanoy, FBS Graduate.